Here's the harsh truth no one talks about — yoga teacher training doesn't actually prepare you to become a thriving yoga teacher. Sure, you'll learn the correct alignment for asanas and yogic philosophy, but you won't learn an essential ingredient to being able to teach sustainably for your livelihood. You won't learn how to start a yoga business. Because yes, being a yoga instructor means owning a yoga business.
While mantras can make a huge difference in your happiness, they certainly won't pay the bills. So as a newly certified yoga teacher, it's your responsibility to figure out how to upskill your teaching.
You've got to make it into a business where you actually get paid for the wonderful work you do. That's why we've created this handy guide. We'll break down how to start a yoga business in 7 steps:
Table of contents:
- You've got to practice teaching
- Work on your online presence
- Create a yoga business plan
- Grow your network
- Reach out to businesses
- Order yoga business cards & flyers
- Start a mailing list
- Bonus step - Keep at it
Just because you've had a few hundred hours of YTT does not mean you are ready to take the stage. You've got to memorize sequences, study poses, practice verbal cues, and most importantly, you've got to get over the fear of making a mistake.
Being a yoga teacher means being the star of the show. All the attention will be on you. So while most students might forgive a mental fart, repeated mishaps might cost you newly acquired students. So practice, practice, practice teaching.
It's best to gather a group of friends and family and begin teaching them. Classes can be completely free or donation-based, from home or at a nearby park. Be upfront about having them be your guinea pigs while you find your groove.
You'll be surprised at how many people show up — who doesn't want free yoga classes?! But more than anything, these people are there to support you. So try out different teaching styles and see what feels right for you. Are you the soft-spoken teacher who's there to ground your students, or are you the tough love teacher that's there to empower them?
You can and always should adjust your class according to how your students feel and their level of experience. But it's good to grow into your teaching style by knowing what it is that you want to offer your yoga students. Play around with music, add pranayama or read quotes during savasana. Keep asking yourself what feels right for your yoga business offering.
Work on your online presence
I know you like being in the here and now (that's what we preach in yoga). But if you are starting out your yoga business, then the reality is that you need to be in the always and online. I don't mean you need to be plugged into your phone all the time. However, you do need an online presence for potential yoga students to check out whenever they please.
Set up a website, or Subkit, and get on social media. You need a place for people to validate what you do, and get informed about your teaching schedule and style.
A big component to why people will gravitate towards you is your personal brand. That's what should guide your online presence. If you need help sorting through some branding questions, then review this guide on finding your personal brand.
Beyond having your contact information and schedule up, you should use your online presence to showcase your knowledge. Here's a quick guide on how to get you started on a simple social media strategy for small businesses.
Create a yoga business plan
Ok, you've practiced teaching, set up a website, started posting on social media — great job getting this far. But at this point, you're starting to realize yoga students don't grow on trees.
It's time to create a yoga business plan. While the words "business plan" might leave any yogi dull-eyed, it's not as bad as it sounds. It just means it's time to set goals and define a strategy on how to reach them.
What do you want out of your yoga teaching business? Would you like it to be your full-time thing, part-time or just a fun side hustle you do on occasion? How much money do you want to make each month? Would you rather teach large classes or one-on-ones at a higher price point? What's the price range in your area? What are the costs associated with teaching?
Making a yoga business plan is only part of the puzzle. You may not reach your goals or you may find that you change your goals along the way. In case that does happen, feel free to revisit your business plan whenever you need.
Pro tip: This is the most important step to get you working towards a north star so keep it up to date.
Grow your network
In all honesty, this step might be uncomfortable. You'll have to be vulnerable about needing support. And your current network can be a little push to get the ball rolling.
Ask that initial group of friends and family if they want to stay on as paying students. You might even offer them a promo for being there during your trial period as a teacher. Ask if they know people within their networks who are looking for yoga classes.
At every opportunity you get, every event you go to, every time you introduce yourself, you should make it very clear that you are a yoga teacher. Create an elevator pitch for these intros. Spark their interest with your personal branding.
"I curate rock playlists for each yoga class and make my students sweat with HIIT warmups." Now that's memorable. "During savasana, I chant ancient Buddhist mantras I learned while living in Thailand." Wow, tell me more.
Don't forget to tap into your wellness network. Ask your own yoga teachers and those who completed yoga teacher training with you. They might know of teaching opportunities or need substitute teachers.
Tell the meditation instructors, therapists, and all other kinds of healers in your life that you're looking to grow your yoga business. Ask if they are open to recommending you to some of their clients. Cross-promote each other on social media and collaborate on wellness-centered events.
Lastly, there are a plethora of online groups dedicated to yoga teachers and wellness professionals. Subreddits, Facebook groups, local associations, you name it. Don't be shy, join those communities for free, and start engaging.
Everyone on there is looking for the exact same thing as you — to support and be supported. These groups hold a wealth of knowledge too, so use them to improve your yoga teaching practice.
Reach out to businesses
Time to get you out and about. This can be one of the most fun parts of starting a yoga business. Research places you'd want to teach at or partnerships you'd want to forge.
While you can and should have ownership over your audience by setting up a subscription plan on Subkit, it might give you a head start to partner with businesses that already have a preexisting community, at first.
Get in touch with yoga studios, coworking spaces, and even restaurants, galleries, and stores. There is no shortage of venues offering yoga classes. So there's no reason why you shouldn't be the teacher leading the next class.
You might not get replies when cold emailing or calling, so hit the city. Confirm what time these businesses are open and go check them out in person. Now that you have your elevator pitch, you'll know how to wow them and stand out from all the other yoga teachers in the neighborhood.
Be warned that working with businesses means you will not get 100% of what you make in class. So use this as a starting point until you have enough yoga students to convert into dedicated subscribers.
How much of your time you are able to give to these businesses will depend on what you stated in your business plan. Once in a while events? Weekly classes? Let your north star guide you.
Another angle to pursue while doing outreach is to ask if businesses are interested in offering corporate yoga classes to their employees. If you find a corporate gig, never let it go. That's stable income that's likely to be a long-term commitment if you keep your yoga students happy.
Order yoga business cards & flyers
So perhaps the businesses you got in touch with aren't open to having you teach yoga, what now? Turn lemons into lemonade. They might be able to give you free exposure by having your business cards and flyers spread around their space or bulletin board.
Yes, the world has gone digital, especially during the pandemic, it's true. But there are plenty of small businesses that support small businesses as part of their ethos. Find those opportunities! And print out well-designed yoga business cards and flyers with all necessary information.
Business cards can seem like a relic of the past. So you need to design something that looks nice, current, and reflects your personal brand. Great marketing collateral can live in people's homes and wallets until they're ready to reach out to you about class.
Having these at hand can be extremely useful in your day-to-day encounters and when you collaborate on one-off events. They can even be used as an extra incentive to get someone to book a class by including a promo code somewhere in the design.
Start a mailing list
This is big. Having a mailing list means you can directly communicate with your yoga students anytime. Whether you want to tell them about an event, offer a freebie online class, or send newsletters with yoga resources and awesome wellness podcasts, then this is the way to do it.
Don't rely on Instagram and social media for that kind of connection with your students. Algorithms won't always be your friend, but an email will show up in your student's inbox (make sure they don't mark you as spam).
Actively using emails for regular newsletters can even bring its own secondary income. You can get paid for well written content. Yeah! Here are a few tips on growing your mailing list and and making that happen.
Bonus Step: Keep at it
Now you've got a solid foundation on how to start a yoga business, and advice on how to find more yoga students. Unfortunately the only next step is to keep at it.
You'll have to hustle along to get those new students, build business partnerships, and keep perfecting yourself as a teacher. It is a journey. Luckily, you are your own boss and this means you get to choose how much work and time you want to put into your business.
This autonomy can be rewarding, but it can also be quite difficult. So celebrate your achievements, no matter how small, keep revisiting your goals, find a support system, and take good care of your mental and physical health.
If have your own success story on how to start a yoga business, or need more tips as a beginner yoga teacher then reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own business? Check out subkit.com and learn how you can turn “one day” into day one.